The widespread use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) suggests that it is a complete traditional medical health care system and can be used with or without the integration of Western medical techniques.
Acupuncture Infertility - History
The benefits of Acupuncture and TCM in treatment for the infertile couple can be found in early Chinese medical literature from 11AD. Not only do these techniques assist in regulating the menstrual cycle and invigorating the sperm, but they also serve to enhance the function of the whole body. This "whole body" health approach, is the key that unlocks unlimited potential in healing.
Fertility Treatment Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
In Oriental medicine there is a saying that one should “cultivate the soil before planting the seed.” While treatments with acupuncture and Oriental medicine can indeed improve your rate of success and help couples conceive within a relatively short period of time, it is more often the norm that it will take at least a few months (generally 3+ months) for you and your partner to achieve successful results. This is because the body needs time to return to a healthier state. Through regular treatment with acupuncture (1-2 times per week) and herbal medicine (taken daily as a tea in concentrated herbal granules or pill form), you should notice overall improvement in both mental and physical health, as well as a more relaxed state of mind.
Fertility Treatment Acupuncture
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can safely be used in conjunction with or without assisted reproductive technologies such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), IUI, ICSI, GIFT, or ZIFT as long as it is performed by a properly trained practitioner of TCM who can adjust the treatments according to the stage of your fertility procedure. If you choose to use assisted fertility procedures as well, please keep in mind that the best time to incorporate these measures is once you and your practitioner feel that your body is in a more balanced state. This can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months or longer. For men with low sperm count and poor morphology or motility, the average duration of a treatment course using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is at least 3 months since it takes 100 days for new sperm to mature. Through proper nourishment and a lifestyle that promotes both your physical as well as your emotional well-being, you can ensure the best of health for both you and your baby.
The Over 40 Couple
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are especially appropriate for the over 40 couple as they stimulate overall health to effect reproductive health and a reduction of biological age. For the woman over 40 there are herbs that nourish the deeper vitality that is necessary for the body to call forth healthy ovum. For the couple, where the woman is over 40, intercourse is not recommended for the entire pregnancy.
Acupuncture Infertility Treatment
Acupuncture, frequently combined with Chinese herbal medicine, has been used for centuries to treat some causes of infertility. Acupuncture can increase blood flow to the endometrium, helping to facilitate a thick, rich lining. The TCM patient derives general health benefits and endocrine system balancing from specific acupuncture and herbal regimes. Pregnancy becomes easier to achieve and postpartum recuperation happens faster. Medical studies have been done in China to verify this type of whole body health enhancement. TCM ventures to stimulate the body’s natural healing potential by treating root causes rather than just symptoms.
Infertility Chinese Herbs
Chinese herbal formulas that tonify the Kidney energy (renal and adrenal function), and Kidney essence are especially beneficial in raising sperm count and motility.
Acupuncture treatment begins when?
Patients are commonly treated for 3-4 months before an insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or donor-egg transfer. It is better to do more than less. This period of treatment has a therapeutic calming effect.
Acupuncture Fertility – Is it Enough?
In a study by the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fertility Centre, Scandinavia and University of Gothenburg, women are encouraged to receive acupuncture treatments pre and post embryo transfer. Clinical observations from the Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness suggest that the most effective fertility treatments involve a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and traditional medical interventions. However, conception does sometimes occur when acupuncture and herbal medicines are used without traditional medical interventions.
When should I stop getting acupuncture?
Most miscarriages occur within the first 3 months of pregnancy. Treatment of patients may often last through week twelve to help prevent miscarriage.
Acupuncture Treatment after an insemination, IVF, or donor-egg transfer?
Your acupuncturist knows not to place needles in the abdomino-pelvic area after insemination or transfer. There are 6 contraindicated acupuncture points which should be avoided when the patient is pregnant or pregnancy is suspected. These include Gallbladder 21, Stomach 12, Large Intestine 4, Spleen 6, Bladder 60, Bladder 67 and any points on the lower abdomen.
PMS, amenorrhea, endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, immune system incongruities, and infertility related hormonal problems yield to Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture). Acupuncture also helps by addressing problems that affect fertility such as under-functioning (hypothyroidism) or over-functioning (hyperthyroidism).
Acupuncture and herbs will not work to address tubal adhesions which can occur as a result of pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis. However, in this situation, an individual could still benefit from acupuncture and herbs because of the potential effect of improved ovarian and follicular function.
Acupuncture is not contraindicated for anyone regardless of their pathology or what medications they are taking.
There are minimal risks when using acupuncture for fertility treatment. A risk of miscarriage may develop if incorrect acupuncture points are used when a woman is pregnant. This is one reason why those wishing to include acupuncture in their treatment regimen should only be treated by a California Board Licensed Acupuncturist with four years of full time training.
Is acupuncture a licensed profession?
Absolutely. A bachelor and master’s degree is required. The master’s degree is a four year full time University accredited education (4125 hours for the masters).
What types of fertility patients typically get acupuncture?
Acupuncture can be used to treat any type of fertility disorder. Even spasmed tubes are de-spasmed with acupuncture, although blocked tubes will not unblock with acupuncture. Acupuncture is often combined with herbs to treat elevated follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), repeated pregnancy loss, unexplained (idiopathic) infertility, luteal phase defect, hyperprolactinemia (when not caused by a prolactinoma), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) with annovulatory cycles, and male factor including men affected with sperm-DNA-fragmentation.
Infertility Causes in Women
For women, the major causes of infertility are endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, poor egg quality, difficulties with ovulation, female tube blockages from pelvic inflammatory disease, sperm allergies (to partner’s sperm), scarring from sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, or previous sterilization procedures.
Infertility Causes in Men
In men, infertility can be due to poor sperm quality, low sperm count, altered sperm morphology (shape), sperm allergies (normally after a reverse vasectomy), male tube blockages arising from varicoceles, and scarring caused from sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia or gonorrhea.
Environmental factors such as exposure to pesticides or other toxins, extreme stress, or extreme weight gain or loss may be the root cause in failure to conceive or maintain a pregnancy.
Infertility in both partners, known as ‘combination infertility’ may also arise if both partners have factors that affect their fertility.
Infertility Integrating Western & Chinese Medicine
The highly technical and expensive methods used in Western Medicine are supported by the complimentary Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulations. Currently TCM, both in China and America, is used in conjunction with Western medical techniques and testing to design an effective course of treatment for the couple wishing to achieve not only pregnancy, but a healthy baby delivered at full term. Traditional Chinese medicine may be used to strengthen and balance one's general health so that IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, ICSI, AHT and TET procedures are more effective.
The integration of Western medicine, as we know it in America, began in the Orient less than a century ago. Ancient medical techniques of acupuncture and herbs utilized with modern procedures, seem to work best.
Acupuncture at the right time in the menstrual cycle, in conjunction with an herbal formula, can clear the infertility in several months. Unexplained infertility in modern society is not something simple that can be relieved over night. It may take months to release the stress, trauma, and toxin in the system, if it is at all possible. There have been cases resolved within a month's time.
Miscarriage - Acupuncture
Since 11 AD, Chinese people have been using traditional medicine to effectively treat both male and female infertility. Many texts have been published in the medical literature focusing on these problems that have so recently come to the forefront in western society. TCM for threatened miscarriage includes acupuncture, herbs, diet and a different approach to exercise. The medicine that helps the patient attain a healthy vital energy can greatly aid the woman who has had miscarriages due to a hormonal imbalance.
Miscarriage – Traditional Chinese Medicine
Sixty percent of all spontaneous abortions occur in the first half of the first trimester of pregnancy. Genetics play a key role in habitual miscarriages. To presume that TCM alters genetic structure without triple blind studies is a stretch of most peoples imagination. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine is very effective in strengthening a persons' constitution.
Miscarriage - Chinese Medicine
If a woman has miscarried, it is important to build and conserve her life force energy and build her blood. There is a very famous formula that builds both life force energy and blood, which is used to strengthen the body and prepare a woman for conception. This is especially useful if she has a history of miscarriage. The formula should be given for three to six months before conception is attempted. Just giving this herbal decoction does not guarantee that conception will take place and the next baby delivered to full term. Seeing the patient as a whole person and thereby considering their total health picture helps the TCM physician decide how to choose and change a formula to be specific to the patient.
Sex During Pregnancy
Sex (intercourse) during the first trimester is contraindicated, especially for the woman that has a history of miscarriage, as the placenta is not yet fully formed. TCM practitioners indicate that it is probably best for all couples to abstain for the whole nine months of pregnancy. Modern couples usually have no problem with this idea especially when they consider the investment they have made. For the couple, where the woman is over 40, intercourse is not recommended for the entire pregnancy even by western physicians.